Redeeming Justice draws from the lived experience of the project's co-authors who were sentenced to life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) over three decades ago and human rights law to argue for a right to redemption. The central argument is that all human beings are capable of change and that this should be reflected in the law, meaning that impermeable sentences like LWOP, which allow for no opportunity to revisit indefinite incarceration, amount to cruel and unusual punishment. The article will be published in the Northwestern Law Review in October. Please find a link to the draft of the article here.
This event is part of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy series, The Fierce Urgency of Now, drawing upon the famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said, “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” The fall series will focus on the intersection of racial, economic, and social justice in the United States. Information on how to access the event can be found below.
This event is co-sponsored by the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Institute to End Mass Incarceration.
- Andrew Manuel Crespo | Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
- Kempis “Ghani” Songster | Program Manager, Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project
- Rachel López | Associate Professor of Law, Thomas R. Kline School of Law, Drexel University; Director, Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic
- Sushma Raman (moderator) | Executive Director, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy
Andrew Manuel Crespo is the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches criminal law and procedure and serves as the Executive Faculty Director of the Institute to End Mass Incarceration. Professor Crespo's research and scholarly expertise center on the institutional design, power structures, legal frameworks, and political economy of the American penal system. His scholarship has been honored by the Association of American Law Schools and profiled in The New York Times, with his leading articles appearing in the Harvard Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. Together with John Rappaport, he is the author of Criminal Law and the American Penal System, an innovative forthcoming casebook that recasts the traditionally required criminal law course as a class about the role law and lawyers have played in building and sustaining the pathologies of the modern American penal system.
Kempis “Ghani” Songster is the Director of the Healing Futures Restorative Justice Diversion Program, a partnership between the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP) and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. He was imprisoned in 1987 for murder. Despite his age of 15, he was certified as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder, and received a mandatory life sentence without parole. He became what is called a “juvenile lifer.” While in prison, Kempis developed and facilitated prison programs such as Cultural Awareness and Self-Enhancement (CASE) and From Trauma to Triumph, and also co-designed and co-facilitated the Fathers And Children Together (FACT) program . He has co-founded outside nonprofits such as The Redemption Project and Ubuntu Philadelphia (https://vimeo.com/286002778); and is a founding member of Right To Redemption, which helped launch Philadelphia’s Coalition to Abolish Death By Incarceration (CADBI). After 30 years of incarceration, Kempis was released from prison, at the age of 45. Since his release, he has joined the staff at the Amistad Law Project, where he continues to work for the release of others, as well as to end the sentencing of human beings to life without parole/death by incarceration. He is also a member of Ecosocialist Horizons, where he has joined the fight for a more livable planet.
Rachel López is an Associate Professor of Law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University and the Director of the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic. She is currently a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She has also held visiting fellowships at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law at the University of Cambridge, the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. In 2016, Professor López researched transitional justice in Guatemala and Spain as a Fulbright Scholar. From 2015 to 2019, she served as a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, as an appointee of Governor Tom Wolf. Her scholarship primarily focuses on state responsibility for mass abuse, transitional justice, and the carceral state.
Virtual Event Details
This event will be livestreamed on YouTube Live. Attendees registered for this event (link below) will receive a link for the livestream 1 hour before the event where you can participate in the live chat and ask questions during the event.